Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sourdough Loaves from the Wood-Fired Oven

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Now that cooking pizza in the new wood-fired oven has been a success, it was time to try baking some sourdough bread ( recipe coming soon). This photo is my contribution to Black and White Wednesday #106 hosted this week by our lovely admin, Cinzia from Cindy Star Blog. If you would like to contribute or host Black and White Wednesday, the rules and host line-up are posted here. The sourdough loaves were photographed in color and a sepia filter added in Topaz BW Effects 2.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Easy, But Delicious Pizza Sauce

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Crushed San Marzano tomatoes are the secret to this easy pizza sauce. Touted to be the only tomato for pizza napoletana, the San Marzano is a small plum tomato with firm red flesh, a tart taste and with fewer seeds than its larger cousin.  Authentic San Marzano tomatoes are grown in Campania within the site of Mount Vesuvius in fields rich with volcanic soil. Now you know a little about the San Marzano tomato, I will say that today is reveal day for the Secret Recipe Club and my pizza sauce recipe is adapted from  From Grandma Loy's Kitchen, my blog assignment for the month of November. The sauce ingredients combined can be cooked or used freshly made. I like the freshly made version for the pizza I cooked here. Instead of using tomato sauce as Loy's recipe suggested, I used crushed San Marzano tomatoes as I liked my sauce a little chunky. 
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My pizza was cooked in a wood-fired oven just recently installed in our backyard. After our trip to Italy this past July and enjoying foods cooked in wood-fired ovens, we decided that we could really enjoy this age old method for cooking not only pizza, but baking bread, grilling and roasting meats and cooking complete meals in the course of one day. 

Toppings for this pizza are simple-fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, then drizzled with a good olive oil before baking. The pizza dough recipe comes from Jaime Oliver. The wood-fired oven from Forno Bravo and was installed by Dalzell Design Landscaping.

Easy Pizza Sauce

1-28 ounce can San Marzano Crushed Tomatoes
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients. If using fresh, let stand 30 minutes for the flavors to meld. For a cooked sauce, simmer gently in a saucepan for 10 minutes, stirring often. This sauce can be refrigerated for several days or frozen for later use.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Chicken Tomatillo Pozole

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This tomatillo chicken pozole was originally began as a chicken tomatillo chili, but while it was bubbling gently on the stove, I spied two cans of white hominy in my pantry. Instead of the white beans intended for the chili, I opted for the hominy and I'm glad I did.  I loved the earthy chewy quality of the hominy, a perfect foil to the smoky rubbed chicken pieces and the sharp citrus like flavor of the  tomatillos.
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The Native American Indians used corn in many ways. Hominy is made from dried kernels of field  corn which undergo a process called nixtamalization, the removal of hull and the germ causing the kernels to puff up and soften. The kernels after drying can then be made into corn meal, hominy grits and other corn based products such as masa harina. Alternatively, the dried hominy can be softened by cooking and is used the soups, stews and casseroles. Pozole is not pozole without hominy which

Pozole is a traditional pre-Columbian soup made with hominy and meat, traditionally pork, but chicken,and turkey are also used, along with chili peppers and other seasonings. Toppings for the finished pozole are endless-shredded cabbage, radishes, avocados, cilantro, tortilla chips and lime juice. It is often served at celebrations and is an acclaimed cure for hangovers.

 Chicken Tomatillo Pozole

2-2-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons smoky chili powder, recipe follows
2 tablespoons oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
8-10 medium fresh tomatillos, husked, rinsed and quartered
1-2 fresh jalapeños, halved and seeds removed
4 cups chicken broth
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces) white hominy, rinsed and drained
1-2 tablespoons masa harina
Additional smoky chili powder, if desired
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
To garnish- tortilla chips and additional cilantro

Rub the chicken pieces with the smoky chili powder. In a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, brown chicken pieces in batches, adding more oil if necessary. Remove chicken to plate. Lower the heat and to the pan, add the onion, sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic in the last minute of cooking.

In a food processor, grind the tomatillos and jalapeño together. Add to pan along with the browned chicken and chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper. Cook about 10 minutes on medium heat, taste and add more smoky chili powder if desired.  Add the drained hominy, reduce heat and simmer about 45 minutes. If pozole is too thin, bring to a slight boil, and stir in the 1-2 tablespoons masa harina.

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Smoky Chili Powder

2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
2 tablespoons dried oregano, crumbled
2 tablespoons garlic powder

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Transfer to an airtight container until ready for use. Keeps about 3 months. Makes 1/2 cup.

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Monday, November 04, 2013

Homemade Light Rye Bread

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This rye bread is one of the easiest and most flavorful of all the rye breads I have baked.  It has a soft texture and makes a perfect sandwich bread. Even when toasted and slathered with butter, it's delicious. The intense, but not overpowering flavor comes from molasses, powdered cocoa, caraway seeds and just enough rye flour to realize it is it a rye bread. The original recipe comes from Simply Recipes which I have halved and adapted to process on the dough cycle of my bread machine. My bread machine does a great job of kneading and is a great time saver when preparing dough. That being said, I never use the bake cycle on the machine as I like to form the loaves and bake them in a conventional oven.

Rye flour is dense and while high in bran and soluble fiber, it is low in gluten so is often mixed with a wheat flour to ensure a good rise. It has a slightly sour taste so works well for dark breads and sourdough breads. There are light, medium and dark rye flours, the color dependent upon how much of the bran has been removed in the milling process. Rye flour is usually healthier than wheat flour as the bran and the germ have been preserved in the milling process.

The culinary journey through Estonia continues with this homemade rye bread as a contribution. Rye bread is a basic fundamental food in Estonia as well as Lithuania and Latvia. It is eaten at nearly every meal. Traditionally in Lithuania, if a piece should fall to the ground, it is picked up and kissed before being eaten. 

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Homemade Light Rye Bread
Bread Machine

1 package bread machine yeast
1-1/2 cups warm water
1/3 cup molasses
3 cups bread flour
1 cup light rye flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon caraway  seed

Add the ingredients to your bread pan according to the manufacturer's instructions for your machine. Process on the dough cycle. When the cycle has completed, remove dough from the machine to a lightly floured surface. Punch down and let rest 5 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Shape into a loaf and place in a lightly greased loaf pan. Let rise about 45 minutes or until dough has risen just above the surface of the loaf pan. 

Bake 35-40 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when tapped. Let cool 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes one large loaf. 

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The above black and white image is my contribution to  BWW #104 hosted this week by Simona of Briciole. Black and White Wednesday was created by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook and is now managed by Cinzia of Cindy Star Blog.
I am also submitting this recipe to Yeastspotting.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Estonian Borscht

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Grated beets, red cabbage, carrots and apple all come together in this slightly tangy borscht, a soup which has its roots in the Ukraine, but is popular in many of the Eastern and Central European countries. I love this soup for its color, simplicity and the fact that it uses all fresh produce. Not quite vegetarian, but if desired, vegetable broth can be substituted for the chicken broth. The borscht is flavored with caraway seeds, popular in the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Since we are on a culinary tour of Estonia, I thought this soup would fit in perfectly for that event hosted by myself. I served it with a homemade rye bread, the recipe soon to be posted.

When making the borscht, a food processor makes easy work of grating the beetroot, cabbage, apple and carrots. No problem if you don't have one though, a hand grater will work as well. Garnish the finished soup with chopped hard boiled eggs, sour cream and a sprinkling of caraway seeds. Although delicious when first made, after a day in the refrigerator allowed the flavors to meld. For more recipes on Estonia, visit Estonia- "O" is for Orzotto- Abbecedario Culinario della Comunita Europea. Scroll down to the bottom of the page. Enjoy!

Estonian Borscht

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1-3/4 pounds beets (beetroot), peeled and grated
1 small red cabbage, finely shredded
1 large cooking apple, grated
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 carrots, grated
1 large bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, minced
8-3/4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 hard boiled eggs, chopped, to garnish
1/2 cup sour cream, to top soup

Melt butter over medium heat in a large heavy pot. Add the caraway seeds and beets. Stir to coat in the butter. Season to taste.

Add the cabbage and apple to the pan, then the vinegar, carrots, bay leaf and garlic. Cover and simmer gently for 2 hours, adding a little water if needed to maintain the soups consistency.

Serve the hot borscht topped with the hard boiled egg and pass the sour cream around. Serves 6-8.

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